Book Review: Edge of the Flame by James Aichinger
“…A tense, intricately woven story challenging the ideas of freedom and fate.”
I love books that start off in media res. Edge of the Flame drops you right down into a source of trauma for our main character, Adanis. There are lots of great action sequences. Edge of the Flame features: cyber hacking, spaceships, magical powers, holographic weapons, mind games, mysterious yet justified villains, insane twists, and a main character who experiences a fate-altering transformation by the end. Tension builds and fades in dramatic crescendos while continuously building up to the last pages.
Aichinger does wonders in his descriptions with relatable similes and metaphors to explain new concepts to his readers. His first book tackles many intense concepts of psychological theory, primarily fear, but also the intricate—and often deliberated—concepts of reality, connection to the universe, and how humans are linked to other life forms.
It features some creative magical powers and traditional ones and delves into the development of them—everything from pyrotelekinesis to gravity manipulation. There are characters with controlled telepathy reminiscent of the dark force from Star Wars. I enjoyed the way magic’s expenditure is explained—how it is a limited force that must be regenerated, much akin to health. There are always stakes and obstacles and reminders of mortality.
There’s a steady amount of information on the species and historical battles without being too concentrated or lacking in description. Edge of the Flame includes tons of backstabbing alliances, personal agendas, and physical/mental/political battles for power, to the point where you can’t figure out what’s going to happen next. Aichinger then tops off the delightful madness by throwing in several mysterious conversations between the antagonist and others which adds a nice element of tension to the enigma of Adanis’s situation.
Edge of the Flame quickly becomes a tense, intricately woven story challenging the ideas of freedom and fate. At the end is an unpredictably sharp turn but leaves the reader with a balance of resolution and questions, calling us on to the second book.
It is definitely a unique read. There aren’t any chapters, more like phases/scenes of the story. Aichinger narrates from multiple character perspectives, which adds an element reminiscent of the big screen, but at times (for me) was distracting because some scenes are short-lived.
Edge of the Flame is dialogue-heavy and full of formalities and explanations, which helps with understanding all of the wars and other past events. The story takes a bit of time to build speed, but when it kicks off, it doesn’t stop.
There are lots of characters in a wide variety of personalities and species from humans to lizard-like Hadraaks and feline sorts. My personal favorite was the robot, Op-Tech, because I’m a sucker for the comedian character and for adorable robots. Edge of the flame is a lot to read, but very rewarding in the end. I look forward to reading book 2 when it’s out!
$2.99 US eBook: Edge of the Flame
£1.99 UK eBook: Edge of the Flame